this week on q&a charles blow, division will op-ed columnist for "the new york times". c-span: charles blow, your biography starts with this. charles blow is the visual bet columnist for "the new york times." since april 2008 his columns have appeared in the times every other weekend featured charts -- no, let me read that again and feature charts as a form of opinion journalism. what's this all about? >> guest: people ask me that question of time. it's pretty much as it says. i am a numbers guy, not so much computational, but i may trend spotter and i use charts to visualize those trends. and i use this charts in my opinion pieces. i kind of build the opinion of the chart. for me, the data comes first.
i don't decided that i'm going to talk about a subject and then go out and look for data. i really do search for data first and see if it's something interesting and something that kind of agrees with an opinion that i have reserved conference. so it surprises me and i could surprise my readers. and i built out from there. c-span: started reading you won saturday's -- open up this saturday times on the op-ed page there's always a big chart on there. when was it decided that they wanted you to do this? >> guest: i guess i started almost three years ago, and i left the times to become our director for national geographic magazine. it was kind of fan untenable situation that i never moved to washington dc. the magazine is in d.c.. i commuted from brooklyn to washington to revive a single dad. i have three kids.
i had three nannies. it was just an untenable situation. i came back and said i can't do it anymore. my bosses said fine, you just work from home and we will see how we can work it out. bill keller, the executive editor of the times kept harassing me the entire time i was away saying you have to come back to the times. we will go have lunch. we had lunch and he said why don't you think about things that he would like to do at times if you were to return. and one of the things i have always liked was to have this feature on the op-ed page called op charts. because i was doing charting for the newspapers i could never do op charts. couldn't cross that fence. i always wanted to. i figured they were doing it with real answers. why not have someone on the staff to do charles op charts at was the genesis of the idea. c-span: how did you get into being a graphics specialist?
>> guest: complete happenstance. i mean, in college -- my aspirations and thai school was the i wanted to be the governor of louisiana. and from louisianan. i met the governor when i was a junior in high school. it was edwin headwords at that time. it was right after he said you know, his famous quote the only way i could not be reelected if i'm caught in bed with a live boy or a dead girl. i mean, he had such with the young people call swagger. he walks in and we are all in the mansion. he walks into the room and i've never seen anybody with that much confidence in my life and weeks before the weekend that week studying governors of louisiana. they were all charismatic over the top people and i thought these guys are having the best time of their lives. i'd love to be the governor of louisiana. so in college i majored in
english and creole. i was going to be in law school and get into politics. why immaculate to grambling. >> guest: grambling state university, louisiana. one of my english professors actually pulled aside. he liked my riding with this thing was degree? i don't think you'll like this job very much. he was like when you going to be a teacher, an english teacher? i said well i don't know. i'm a freshman in college. i don't have -- haven't thought that far. he said well, why don't you major in journalism instead of english, kind of the same score. you still get to write and if you don't go to law school you can at least the -- have a trade and work as a journalist. and in journalism school they made us the concentration. and, you know, i wish i had more noble reasons than wanting to party of time, but one of the concentrations was visual communications. in the case of natural to me. the visual part. i'd been, you know, kind of an amateur artist all my life. and i chose that concentration.
c-span: i've got to go back to your earlier comments about edwin edwards. how many years did he spend in prison? >> guest: i'm not exactly sure to the i'm not sure if it was only one state. is it only once did? >> guest: he is out now. >> guest: yes, he is. yes, yes, yes. c-span: and so what about the part of his life did you -- what did you think? >> guest: it's very interesting in louisiana. i mean people -- they are not really punished so much as you expect them to be for kind of el walls. there's a certain amount of kind of mystique about that kind of flouting the will become a catch me if you can mentality. and in fact, i am from a small town where it kind of is even more implied. it's -- am i towns claim to fame is the place where the bonnie and clyde were killed. this re-enactment every year in town of gibsland, the kind shooed out of bonnie and clyde this idea of not mrs. hurley
separating the good and bad in the ways that we generally do it kind of idolizing and making heroes of villans seems to me a sort of louisiana. c-span: compare that with new york city. >> guest: i think it's very different actually be really been one of the things about coming to new york, i thought was very -- was interesting and people say well how do you move from a town of 1100 people to a tom -- to a city of 7 million people? and i tell them very similar in some ways. my neighborhood feels like the small town that i grew up in. i go to the same grocery store. i go to one dry cleaner. i mean, everybody knows you. it feels like my tiny town. in another way the, kind of in a sense of law in order. it's very detached in a way. this silly as community driven as you would find a small town. brian mikey wrote on june 12th, 2010, aside from the people who live in my building, i know the name of only one person who
lives in my block, roger cohen, the times colleague. i want to blame it on the fact that i'm absolutely awful with names and can be quite socially awkward. but that has never been less. then i thought that maybe it was the city thing. that explanation goes but so far to i actually beginning to believe that it's bigger than me, bigger than my block, bigger than the city. i increasingly believe that less neighborhood leanness is becoming intrinsic to the modern american experience. a most unfortunate development. the back to the beginning of that, where you say that you're awful with names but quite socially awkward. what do you think that? >> guest: i don't know. i guess i should pay a therapist and figure that one out for me, but there's a certain, you know, i'm kind of two minds about myself. there's a very outgoing guy who is never shot a and -- but in certain settings, i can be a bit
awkward because i don't do all the small talk things very well. and it creates a very weird thing, because people expect person that they see -- i do a lot of television. they expect this kind of a gregarious personality and laughing and joking. and to some people, i am. but kind of in these intimate situations with relative strangers, i'm not really that person. c-span: you mentioned earlier india talk about it in this column a little bit, you're a single father with three children. how old are they? >> guest: the oldest is 17 and the twins are 13. c-span: what are their names? >> guest: the oldest is taj. the twins are ian ad eman. c-span: and what's it like raising three kids like that? >> guest: hoard. c-span: how do you do it? >> guest: it's a juggle.
particularly with this job -- every job i've had actually. it's a lot of -- it's demanding on my time. but i've learned -- i mean, i've been doing this for ten years now. i've learned how to figure out, how to juggle it, how to plan to make it work out. c-span: so you're at dinner with your three kids. you're talking about the world. what are a couple of basic things you want them to know about this life? >> guest: well, i mean, i guess my biggest thing is i want them to be good people. i'm not -- i don't push them necessarily to news or -- but i want them to be centered and focused on good human beings, good citizens of every city. the country and the world and to be open to difference -- to be open to opportunity and to be open to challenge as. and i feel like -- if i can you know kind of in view them with those kind of basic skills the
rest will fall into place. c-span: what's their reaction to a dad who's published in "the new york times"? do they know anything about that? >> guest: they know obviously but they are not fazed by it at all and not at all impressed by it and in some cases irritated by it because i still have to take them to school. sometimes i will have a television appearance and they will have to go. they will sit in the green room before school so that means they have to get up an hour and a half earlier. they are not impressed and they don't like it. c-span: what year did you graduate from grambling? >> guest: it must have been 1991. i think that's right. will.i.am what did you do after that? >> guest: i interviewed at "the new york times" after to be before that and they sat me down and talked about we could hire you but we would like you want
to come here. we would like you to go out and experiment and make mistakes someone else. that's the best advice i ever gotten. so i left and i graduated and got a job with the detroit news and i interviewed -- it was snowing and i got there at might. so i thought all those big beautiful buildings -- is a great city and was full of great people. i didn't realize it was like the day i started work all the buildings were empty and that, you know, it was a very different city than i was expecting. i learned to love detroit. there's a certain grittiness about and the ability for a spirit to overcome, and there's a lot to overcome, but there's a lot of great people there. but i did not like that weather. it was like one and a half winters and i had to leave.
c-span: what do you do there? >> guest: it was the graphic artist i think was was the job title. i had been trained at grambling. part of the mass, the commander is you were reporting and editing like everything else and i was a co-editor of his college newspaper before left to rely started a magazine as part of the newspaper. so when i got to be trite, my goal was to figure out a way to marry that reporting with what they wanted me to do in the graphics skills. so basically i told them, you know, i ask the boss if something happens, i'm giving the matter where it is and so i would -- he said there was fine with him and whenever a building would burn down or someone would be shot i'd be there on the scene and just reported out so i could visually tell that story. and that became a valuable skill because not a lot of people were doing that in that space at that time. c-span: why did you pick grambling in first place, a
historic black college? >> guest: because it's 20 minutes from where i grew up. second, is where my mother also went to college and the couple's my brothers went to college. it was not my first choice. i kind of wanted to get as far away from my tiny space as i possibly could and had been accepted a couple places and even full scholarships. my other, however, could not even imagine her youngest son before we from her and she talked and talked and talked and talked until i relented and said okay. but i found it to be an amusing spirit in one way and i think
this is true of many historical black colleges. it removed the idea of race from education because there is no way to blame it on anything else other than you're own inability and having that experience for one period in your life is a very interesting experience. if you don't get elected to the student council is because they don't like you and there is no other reason. and there's a kind of freedom that comes as a part of that and i really enjoyed that. c-span: but you finished rather well, magna cum laude a? where did you get interest in learning? >> guest: my mother. my mother is an amazing woman.
she became a single parent after many years of marriage, and i was about 5-years-old -- i have four older brothers. and her kind of even before that point all of my life i remember my mother going to school. she went back to school to finish her degree and after that, she took courses in the evenings and that might to get her master's degree. i can remember sitting in the back of classrooms and she couldn't find anybody to keep me and i would be doodling and she would be taking notes. and the idea of the ability of learning to transform a life is something that has been kind of in steel and the ever since i can remember her. she never watched television other than the news and wheel of fortune and sometimes jeopardy. we were very poor but one thing she never gave up was a home subscription to the newspaper which she read from front to back. so this idea of her constantly wanting to have the sagacious
knowledge -- appetite for knowledge and constantly wanting to improve herself and me being able to see how that actually plays out in a life needed a part of my life. c-span: and what kind of a profession did she have? >> guest: she was a schoolteacher. c-span: whole life? is she still alive? >> guest: yes, she is. she's kind of a secretary when i was very young and she kept going back to school. she became a schoolteacher. eventually she became an of administrator -- don't miss it was vice president, vice principal or not. and now after retirement she has just been elected to the school board in her parish in louisiana. c-span: four brothers, where are they? >> guest: to our stila louisiana, one is in texas and one is in mississippi. they do not believe in going past the mason-dixon line. [laughter] c-span: and what do the -- what do they think of their brother that is. visible? >> guest: i think -- we will
talk about it very much. we just kind of make jokes and have fun. my oldest brother calls we often saying things like i mean, he's a big obama supporter, said he says you know, take it easy on my president, whatever that means or, you know, don't be so critical. so he will offer story suggestions or column suggestions for me, and i listen. but i think they are proud. and i -- there have before me as i have before them. and they're amazing people in their own right. c-span: and three years of writing this column, what column has struck the biggest serve? >> guest: it's a strange lot of things. one was a column about dating, which strangely enough, i did -- i have no idea that it would strike such a nerve with people. c-span: what did you say? >> guest: i mean, i just marked something that some other people have marked another ways, but that it was called the demise of dating. it was the first time that the data showed that high school seniors, there were more of them
who said they had never dated than those who said they dated often. and i talked about how that was a shift. another was a relatively recent one which is about acceptance of gays in the society. it was the first time that acceptance of cade relations, which is the cleat term that the gallup uses, had crossed the 50% mark. but more importantly, it was the first time that more men found it for an acceptable and women and just kind of explored why that could be. the political things are -- you know, they get whatever buzz they get. i mean, a lot of them kind of
have cost about the same weight and, you know, with some level of controversy or whatever, but it's kind of i think our job is to be provocative in a way -- not going to far but try to be a little provocative and make people think. c-span: what day of the week do you decide you are going to write? >> guest: any day of the week it comes to me i will take it. but i mean, i am looking all week long. and again, i am following data. i can't make anyone conduct a survey. i can't make any one published study. and so i'm kind of at the whim of what happens. so i'm constantly monitoring and checking. c-span: which pollster is, for you, the most reliable? >> guest: i think there are a lot of great outfits out there. there's some that are more regular polling. bigger, like the gallup. they are a big organization and they publish something daily,
and that's great for me, because i'm looking for volume. but he research center publishes relatively regularly. i mean, they will do several a week. and that's great for me. the other polling operations, they just don't -- i mean, they don't have the money or the inclination to go into the field that often, so they produce some great material, but not on a regular basis. c-span: but the test you on one. if you go on the drudge report this day, i'm not positive about this but i think you'd see a rossin poll that showed president obama, 43% popular. what what -- already, what are you hearing from me that what you get a reaction from you? >> guest: the times has policies and standards which polls they will use. so there are certain polls that times does not use. i think rossin is one of them. c-span: why would that be?
>> guest: i am not exactly sure probably is methodology. i'm not exactly sure about that. but in general, in terms of methodology the like live interview polls. so if a person uses a kind of rolling you don't know who is on the phone, so they don't like those sorts of polls. they don't like internet polling. and these are all valid reasons for not doing this. so there are some that you can kind of look at for reference and then try to find someone who has called live and see if that works out, but there's some that we just don't use. c-span: is very stable base that you will not use? and other words if they only had 500 people call on the phone, does that trip certain things versus 1200 people that they talk to in person? >> guest: we kind of one over 1,000. you want -- and when you look at who is called, hopefully they've broken down by kind of race, age, ideology.
and you want it to be somewhat representative. it isn't always perfect, but close to a representative of the population at large. and if you see a real skew in there, you should take into account. and if you're going to use it, say that there is a skew in the sample if you can. c-span: and what to ask what relocations in your life. go back to louisianan. what kind of shape is it in today after katrina and other things that have hit the state? >> guest: i mean, my relationship to it is very distant at this point. i mean, i kind of visit my local area, which is as north lullabies, you go 44 miles and you are in arkansas, so was north louisiana as you can get. was it really affected by the hurricane. and i hadn't visited -- this year was the first time i've been back to new orleans. i actually didn't want to see it, quite frankly. i kind of wanted to remember it the way i remember it. but when i was there, there were
two things the were striking to me. first of all, you couldn't see the damage from the airport to the hotel. so i didn't see what a lot of people have seen. i didn't -- i just couldn't make myself go on one of those jurors. and i stayed in the french quarter. but you know there is a certain, you know, change in the vitality and the fabric of that city. you know, the french quarter has always been a kind of raucous place along bourbon street, and it is for a city. but it really began to feel more like las vegas and new orleans that weekend. and i couldn't put my finger on it, and, you know, what this change was to read and i think it's -- and it is just the enormous displacement of the local population. not that they were necessarily the people who would have visited bourbon street on a regular basis, but they were the workers, and they were the panhandlers and they were the -- you know, the people who would have seemed populate a street, trying to make it.
and in the shops on the sides would you have, it just felt like the fabric was different. and i think that's unfortunate because it was a special, special place. and part of what made a special was the -- was the poor people who lived there. and those are the people who have the fewest options about returning and about rebuilding their lives. c-span: how much do you still want to be governor louisiana? >> guest: model. once i figured out the politics was a messy thing i gave up on that. c-span: what do you mean by messy? >> guest: you know, i think what a tv to when you were a kid -- and you know studied politics and just in a kind of classroom setting and jill, -- you know, you're president of your class or what have you -- c-span: were you president of sure class? >> guest: yes, i was president of my class from sixth grade to the 12th grade and also a freshman and junior years in
college. but, you know, that idealism wears off. and you see what it means to run for a big office. if the money becomes a factor and you know all the dirty mess that you have to get yourself involved, and all the dirty hands you have to shake in order to raise enough money to be a politician, it loses its luster very quickly. and the deals that you have to make the news that it's, you know, i now tell people the time i don't trust any politician, ever, because you just -- you have to do so many things to be a politician or unsavory that it's hard for me to trust anybody 100%. c-span: louisiana, in detroit. what happened to detroit? >> guest: when i was there it was already a hollow city.
i mean -- and if you go to the local barber shops, they say they elected a black mayor, there were the riots -- i don't know the order is. the riots, the black mayor, the white flight out of the city -- c-span: i think there was an 67 in the riots i think that mayor cavanaugh was his name and he was white. so the black mayor came after that. >> guest: afterwards. and the city kind of never recovered from that period it coming to know, just continued to decline. when i was there, the kind of weird and striking fact was that you couldn't buy a refrigerator in the city of detroit. and it was true. there were no appliance stores in the city limits. you have to go out, dried out of the city. c-span: why? >> guest: because they were -- i mean, the -- everything was fleeing the city. there was virtually no commerce left in the city of detroit. and so you had little mom and
pop shops. you had a few chains, some -- on the handful of grocery stores, like real grocery stores. i remember that we would have to drive out of the city to do real grocery shopping. so there was very -- there was very little there to support the kind of social structure of the city. and so there was a trickle, trickle, a trickle, and it has only gotten worse if the recession. and now, you know, you see images of this place and it looks like warsaw or something. it's just an incredible decline of a major american city. c-span: so, your three children that you are believed to have our 17 and what's the other age? >> guest: 13. c-span: were born where? >> guest: the oldest was born in gross point, which is right outside of detroit, because my ex-wife did not want the baby to be born in the city of detroit for whatever reason. the other two were born here in
new york city. c-span: and when did you become a single father? >> guest: that was 11 years ago. c-span: if you were sitting down talking to another single father, or maybe somebody that fought the were going to be a single father, what kind of advice would you give him? how hard is it? >> guest: it's very hard. in this hard in ways that, i mean, there are a lot of women who do this all the time to reverse a whittled one to suggest that somehow worse being that i'm a guy, that people do it all the time. but it's a different experience. ..
be. >> guest: so there are these little momentum alive that make you understand how different you are, even among those who are different. c-span: what is the hardest? >> the hardest part is, i think, with a lot of people, you never feel like you're doing anything 100 percent. i never feel like i can give a hundred percent to work. and never feel like i have done all that i can do at home. there is a stress involved in that. it never seems to go away. c-span: i need to ask you, how
do you fix a little girl's hair? >> guest: it's a process. [laughter] it requires a lot of equipment. actually kept it in tackle boxes. so much stuff. what to the harbor stores. the tackle box opens up. i'm like, this is perfect. it's a process. c-span: how does she like to wear her hair? >> guest: different ways, which makes it hard. c-span: are you an expert? c-span: >> guest: i am not. she's all that of which she does herself, which is great. she doesn't do a lot of fancy things because nessie's an athlete. she is very basic now. spam. c-span: we have louisiana and detroit and michigan and new york city. you lived in washington for how long? >> guest: i never lived in washington. c-span: commuting all the time.
national geographic from many months? >> guest: almost two years. i want to say you're in nine months. c-span: is there anything, just to talk about mass of geographic from moment, is there anything about that magazine that you found unusual are interesting after you got inside? >> guest: well, i think it is an amazing place and that they, on some levels that are doing god's work. there are just doing something that no one else has the ability to do or the financing to do, and it's amazing. and it was the only place -- i used to say this before they call me in as meet. >> guest: the only place i love to leave the type to go. i've always been an awful of the visual impact of that magazine. there you understand what it takes to put it together. it is a very long process that
you are planning stories. your meeting this week and play stories. it won't show up for a year-and-a-half. it's a very long process. you kind of, you know, you become very intimate with the information, but it tracks for a while. and that can be its own source of stress because you have so many actions to go back and change and change and change the you actually take as opportunities. you can change the point where you are making work to make yourself busy. c-span: did you get a sense from being there, the future? i think it has lost some speculation in recent years the. >> guest: right. i mean, i am no expert on that, but what i did sense was that there was a strong international presence for the magazine. the interviews are growling. it was a premier products. over here you get it very cheaply. the premium products. and, you know, some combination
of national geographic, into national geographic. and as a web product i think it could be very viable. i mean, i think it may look really bad for many magazines, including them, but i think they have an opportunity. c-span: january the 203rd, 2009. it sounds like a familiar date, right after the inauguration. if you have a headline on your column that says no more excuses. and you begin by writing for the presidential inauguration. blacks descended on washington in droves with a fanatical zacharias like need tech catch a glimpse of this in the okay to death zero -- to that zero martin luther king obama. for them he was dead, game changer, so restorer, dream killer, everything.
okay. and then you could james cliburn of south carolina, the majority whip who is an african-american as saying every child has lost every excuse. and then you say what? that is where i have to put my foot down. that is going a bridge too far. help us out. >> guest: well, i think, you know, a lot of people, i think, listen. a lot of people that everything had changed. the election of obama, and what we are seeing is that is kind of the farthest from the truce. in fact, we are moving into an area in the kind of national consciousness that we have not been in before. people on the one hand what it to be true that many things have changed. and the fact, remained stubborn that family life has not
necessarily changed, economic conditions have actually gotten worse for love people, partly because the recession. it has nothing to do with obama, although it's becoming more to do with them as it becomes more his economic issue that was bush's. and you see kind of the reactions that people are having a round the issue of race. prenup the idea of raise in and of itself to make the accuser. everything is done very muddy, but these stubborn facts remain a problem. so i think when people start to say things like no one ever has, you know, nec's anymore for anything. well, that's not true. and it's problematic to make other people think that is true. that said, there is a lot of personal responsibility of
people have to take. in that think what the polls are showing us is people are beginning to the first time where african americans thought that there were issues, more their own fault and there were the impact, because of the impact of racism. that's a big move forward in banking. and that does. because obama, the problem is that the fact does not necessarily change and the ground. the way that other people perceive you, not just how you perceive yourself, has to change as well. at think that we have to get in that space in the initiate those issues. c-span: on february 19th of this year under the headline empire at the end of decadence. to start up by saying it's time for us to stop lying to ourselves but this country. america is great in many ways, but on a whole host of measures some of which are shown in the accompanying chart, we have become a laggers of the industrial world.
not only are we not number one, usa, usa, we are among the worst of the worst. and the charts show what? >> there were measures like incoming equality. data have been on me, but the basis of well-being, measures of food and security. you know, sevener eight of them. most of those categories, we were among the worst of the worst when compared to other, 33 other industrialized countries. and people don't generally think of us that way. we have this kind of mindset that because we are the biggest economy, because we have the strongest military that because we, in fact, do have some of the most inventive people in america, ipad, internet, facebook. it comes from the u.s.
but there are a lot of measures of well-being where large swaths of the population of not doing well in all. and until we knowledge there is a gatt between those two are on television, and those, the wealthy women and desperate housewives of were ever. the people who actually live in those cities on the lower rungs, then we can't really say that we are number one because we're kind of falling backward and some of these measures. >> he said the republicans have even submitted a draconian budget that would make deep cuts into the tiny vain that is not security discretionary spending cuts that would prove devastating to the poor and working-class. at the very time that many americans and the very country itself is struggling to emerge from the deep hole that the republican proposal would simply throw the burden on top of us.
>> there are so many areas where it makes no sense to cut, particularly in education and well-being of young people. there are a lot of cuts made that could directly at food stability for core people and then people in particular. i wrote another call about cuts that have a direct impact on infant mortality which we are also number one and. that does not plan for a future where you want to reemerge as number one in terms of a strong populist, healthy people, strong thinkers who are smart and capable. and, you know, if you look at -- if you just take -- it does not take a lot of math to deal with these bigger emerging economies either. you take china, which is now one of the 33, but a big emerging economy. so many more people than we have. so if you just take, you know,
the top ten or 15% of their students and assume those are there are students, while they have more than we have students so all the sudden we don't have to do this. you know, we can make the educational. invest or reinforce a education. when the all of them to compete with their tops and a 15%. we can't, you know, cat children because we need these people with graduate from high school to go ahead to college no matter how poor because we need them. wants realize that we don't have , once we move beyond the concept that we want to penalize people who had children, maybe they could have afforded toward ever. you should pay a penalty for this. you should struggle for that. well, maybe if you had them, we didn't need everybody to compete with the house dosing that's happening in india, maybe we could support. but we can afford to be punitive at this point.
c-span: you started off the column with the sentence, it's time for us to stop lying to ourselves about this country. how hard is it to write that first sentence for all your columns? >> guest: it's done a lot easier. it was hard at first. but. c-span: what are you looking for? >> guest: something that grabs you, something that is simple, clear, contains of thought and some for momentum that pushes you forward to want to read the rest of the column, but in interplanted is enticing. >> on august 272010 the column's deadline -- by the way, do you read your headlines? >> guest: yes to my duty for all new york times columnists. a headline is i had a nightmare. average downtown to one line, and you can fill in the rest. and beck is the anti king.
>> i found it to be incredibly offensive. c-span: what was in a marriage? >> guest: the idea that it has played on dr. king's i have a dream speech. but the idea -- he spent a lot of time trying to corrupt and may still be doing this, but a couple of programs where he would take, you know, the kind of marching orders were given to protest and say, this is what we should do. this is cain stream. we are into a film of that dream. i can stomach all this nonsense, but enough. that, too, was a bridge too far for me. c-span: his -- when you watch : beck -- it. >> guest: it's not a regular
thing. c-span: is the one of those characters, anybody can say, a half. >> guest: i think there's a certain entertainment value. provocative and shocking. it makes him a lot of money. i even have a hard time believing that they believe all the things that they say. it's so ridiculous on sundays. but, you know, to each his own. i don't have to take part in that enough to watch it. i don't think, you know, i try to adjust -- i discourage everybody from watching it, but if you want to be entertained. c-span: how often do you dip into the conservative talk-show host world? >> guest: i tried to follow them on twitter and social networking just to see what their headlines are. or i'll check websites, the bigger ones from time to time, particularly if there is something in the news that i think there would be weighing in on. i want to see how -- what they
are saying. sometimes there is some fear stuff. it can get money to -- money with some things that think are unfair, but there are some fear things. and i published my -- you know and all of my columns because i do get a lot of unedited commentary from people on the right. and i we l the offensive things, but some people make some really interesting points. i think it is important for people in positions like might to at least have an ear open to opposing views. c-span: what is it like to have the conservative talk-show host run daily against the new york times? >> guest: i don't care. thirty-four the new york times paid attention? >> guest: i don't even bring it. c-span: they huge following out there in the country, they constantly listen to them, beat
up on the new york times as being the antichrist and a few other things. >> guest: i don't pay any attention to it and know anyone else in the building who pays much attention. the newsroom because there are really striving to be objective. there really are trying earnestly to kind of just the three straight down the metal. on the opinion side, i have an opinion. you have one. i really don't -- it doesn't bother me. c-span: what part of this area do you live in? >> guest: brooklyn. c-span: how often do you go into the office? >> guest: as often as needed. if i can work trauma will. c-span: how often do you get ideas for a column outside of either a pole or a survey? and if you do, where they come from? >> guest: i have -- i have ideas all the time. things i would love to write about.
i can't find data, so i don't. i follow pop culture quite a lot there are a lot of things that i would love to write about. you know, contrary to what many believe, not a political nerve that hard. that i have a broad range of interests. this is that some of them feel too light for the space. speaker. c-span: this is a call from february the fifth 2010. the headline is obama gets his career back. and, you know, thinking back, that's a year ago. the first sentences, where has this obama been. says the state of the union address the president has been bounding about displaying a new sense of vigor and confidence and fighting spirit. he almost look like the president people thought he would become a paladin, not a
pacifist. i could go on, but you are making a point a year ago. how does that trend with today? >> guest: some parts of the president changes. this kind of comes in spurts. which is, you know, interesting because you don't know why that is. and you don't know who you're going to get this of the three months. the person reading now is incredibly quiet. yearly so. there's quite a bit happening. you rarely hear from him directly. the north african and middle east, incredibly unstable. you have a situation in japan and the situation in wisconsin, and this is a president who said particularly of the situation in wisconsin, 2004, 2007, he
appears to have an attack a collective bargaining. all be right there with you. that wasn't true, and he's not only not there, you barely heard a thing about him on that subject. so you don't know who you're going to get. and when he is on his great. he can be a very galvanizing figure. but i think sometimes the calculus is that it's better for him to hang back. and you get this person. c-span: what is your sense of who would be the strongest opponent for 2012? >> guest: a very interesting question because the energy in the midterms is obviously coming from the tea party, but it is very hard to at this point figure out who it tea party candidate would be because, you know, the strongest, one of the strongest candidates is mitt
romney who is not necessarily part of the tea party. i guess you recall, rhino. and on the other hand you have the strongest of the tea party types, which is huckabee, who basically, he's saying he is not running. the palin's of the world, they are kind of interesting, but i don't, even in the polling among republicans, she's not doing very well. the presidential candidates as much as the interesting personality on for the cause. so it's hard to figure out, you know, if romney became the candidate would he have the energy from that tea party crew, or if you did find the tea party candid by the in any way electable? c-span: i want to combine a couple of your columns, one from october 23rd 2009, the magic of michele. forgive me in advance for flaunting, but michele obama is
the coolest first lady ever. she clenched it for me this week by jumping double dutch on the south lawn as part of a healthy kids fair. and later on you say, she has become a powerful symbol of fearlessness, refinement, frugality, and frivolity, managing to be both fun and serious simultaneously. she is genuinely human. now you say frugality. since you wrote that she went to spain for a five day lecture trip to the ritz-carlton, the resort out there. and when you talk about some of the other things, fearlessness, she is kind of withdrawn as to what their political views are. would you write the same column today? >> guest: something, on the trip thing, i don't, people make a lot of things. i don't necessarily buy into that, but i do think on the fearlessness part, she is kind
of operating on the same calculus as the president, which is better to say little or nothing even while being attacked. and kind of the more graceful stately positions, but the attack on her at this point is intent. i mean, the root this past weekend about attacks on her child it obesity campaign which would be kind of a slam dunk issue, but people have revved up the attacks on the first lady and her position as kind of been to sidestep it. c-span: that was the second, want to bring in combining with that one and the column you wrote on march the 12th under the headline the biggest losers, and you get the message a position. saturday's time.
>> guest: you guys real-estate. c-span: you start out with this question, should the government and visited in role in reducing child of the city. that is the question they began asking. nearly 60 percent said yes. only 40 percent said no, and a 60 percent that said, yes, and then you have a big chart showing the states, the west, midwest, south, and the north, northeast -- no, no. these this and then there. pacific. anyway, but got your attention on this and what you trust you? >> guest: pew is a great talent -- polling group. they have a big sample. a very long time. i use them all the time. there are great group. what got my attention here was, you know, being from the south by kind of already was familiar with this, which is the state, the most conservative -- conservatives are bashing the
first lady for this. but the states that tend to be the most conservative are also one that have the biggest issues with that obesity. in general childhood obesity and the accompanying problems that that brings along. and that just want to point that out, that they have the most to gain from dealing with this issue. c-span: and on the charts for instance the question is percent overweight and obese children in 2007, and you go down. mississippi college is on the bottom there, 44 percent compared to a a state like south dakota were its only 28. >> guest: right. c-span: how long does it take you to a 2-column? do you do graphics? >> guest: i did a graphics. once i have figured out what i want to write it's not along -- its are hard to do. the problem is for meet its challenges finding is subject
that sings. a sexy topic, the one that people will want to read, one that has something new, bring something new to the table, a new way of looking at it, and analysis that only i can deliver to the subject. that is the hard part. you can write three of these things a day and think. he can find me something that is great, not so easy. c-span: so somebody comes to you for advice. they say, you're talking to some kids. how many years, eight years president of your class in high school? >> guest: about that. c-span: graduated magna cum laude. a good student. you had a mother that said do this, do that. you become a high-profile columnists and the new york times and everybody says i want to do that. what would you tell them?
how can they get it done? >> guest: i would say, well. i don't know how i get it done. aiden set out to do this. it feels like everything that is ever happened in my life has been some part still, some part hard work and determination and some part lock. and being in the right place at the right time. what i do tell people. we talk to kids all the time. find something that you love. whatever your job is at that moment, put your head down and do that job 115%. what i find a lot of people like to do is to game out there all lives. to say, i want to do this at this point. try to figure out the quickest way to get from what i'm doing to the next eight to the next page. and maybe that works. in my life it has not been aware
plated. i plated by trying to be the best at everything that i was doing at that moment. and another opportunity. c-span: what happened to your dad? >> guest: he still lives in louisiana. only about 20 miles from my mom, so they're very close. he's always at my mom's house. she still does is taxes. this regal couple bickering back and forth. also kind of getting along. it's very cute to watch. c-span: how long have they not been married? >> guest: they have not been begin this is i was five. i'm not exactly sure when the actual divorce was. it was nothing. c-span: charles blow, we thank you very much for your time. ♪
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